Diplomat Who Likes Sport
28 June, 2012
Diplomat Who Likes Sport

Exclucive interview with the Ambassador of Hungary to Georgia

Mr. Sandor Szabo arrived in Georgia last autumn, in November. He is a career diplomat who set out to his professional route at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hungary. Before coming to Georgia in the capacity of  the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, he had spent only one day here, in Tbilisi when back in 1979 he was delegated by the Hungarian ambassador in Moscow to the football game Soviet Union

versus Hungary, which took place in our country. During this rather short journey, Mr. Szabo was assisting the Hungarian football team delegation because previously he used to be a professional football player. But what he remembers since then about Georgia is the hotel and the stadium – these were all the memories he managed to take from one-day trip to Georgia. Therefore, when he arrived last November, the country seemed to him brand new. 

 

G.J: You are more or less a new ambassador. Please, introduce yourself to our reader.

S.S: I am a career diplomat who started his career not yesterday...Uunfortunately, it was 38 years ago. It was back in 1974. I have worked in five countries – first of all, in Moscow, the Soviet Union, in the embassy of Hungary. It was a very nice period because I was the Olympic attache of  Hungary at the XX Olympic Games in Moscow. I was appointed to the position of an ambassador and served my term between 1990 and 1996 in Bulgaria. Then I was an ambassador in Albania in 2003-2007. Then a very interesting period set in my life between 2008 and 2010, when I was the foreign policy advisor of the Moldavian Prime Minister. It was a very special mission but I liked it very much. Afterwards I came here and I hope I’ll stay here for some years (smiles politely).

G.J: What were the impressions that you received on your arrival in November?

S.S: I was here in 1979 but only for one day. I am very much connected with football, as I used to be a professional football player and I helped the Hungarian delegation with football team during the match between Hungary and Soviet Union that was scheduled to take place in Tbilisi. So, my impressions began in November 2011, as the country was brand new because one day is nothing to speak about. I had read a lot about this country, that it is very nice, the nature is fantastic. You have the sea, high mountains. We, Hungarians appreciate it very much, because we don’t have the sea and we don’t have high mountains either. Our highest mountain is 1000 meters, and you have much higher ones. I have visited not only Tbilisi but the countryside as well. So far I have been only to the western Georgia, not its eastern part.  But I will do my best and visit this part too. You have very nice culture and historical heritage – I would like to point out monasteries. It means that my first impressions were justified - I like the country very much. The ambassador is accredited not only to the capital, but to the entire country. My goal is to know the whole country.

G.J: As a diplomat, do you find working here interesting?

S.S: It is a very interesting period indeed. You have elections every year – this year comes parliamentary elections, then presidential and afterwards – local, municipal elections. I can say that this is politically challenging period. I don’t like working in a country, which is very boring. I appreciate that I came here exactly during such an exciting time.

G.J:What can you say about the Georgian cuisine?

S.S: Oh, cuisine is my favorite topic! Because Hungarians are so fond of eating! We like to pamper our stomach very much! My impression is that Georgians are the same.So, we are relatives from this point of view (cordial laughter). During these 7 months, I have been to some of your restaurants; of course not only in Tbilisi but in the countryside as well. I enjoyed it, because you like to eat a lot of meat, greens and spices and we do the same. So, for me the choice is simple, because your dishes are to our taste. My principle is to go to different restaurants as you can always have something new in that way. Most of all, I like the ways you cook fish and of course, Khachapuri. Fish with garlic sauce is marvelous – Hungarians like garlic in general. As for sweets, I like them but it is not so healthy and therefore, I eat them very seldom. Healthy food is important for me.

G.J: Which is your favorite sphere of Georgian culture?

S.S: First of all, the religion – your heritage – the monasteries – I like them very much.

G.J: What about the favorite artists?

S.S: The national ensemble that arrived in Budapest last year. The program was called Flying Georgians (It must be either Erisioni troupe or Sukhishvilebi). It was my introduction to Georgia in general and to the Georgian culture. I watched them again in Batumi, Ajara. These young girls and boys are fantastic. Hungarians like dancing very much too. But Georgian dance is a high class.

G.J: Can you describe your ordinary day?

S.S: Of course. Fortunately, the diplomatic life is very intensive and vibrant here. We have a lot of events, conferences, seminars, exhibitions, and so on. Almost every week, I receive two delegations. Sometimes I myself organize some events. Recently, we held one to celebrate the 20th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties between Georgia and Hungary. But most of the time I have to spend at the embassy. But we have other obligations, meetings with foreign ambassadors, and it takes time. Generally, The events are organized in the evening. I sometimes return home at 10 o’clock. I start the day by looking through the papers.

G.J: How did you get accustomed to the Georgian lifestyle in general?

S.S: I like the city. I am accredited to Georgia and Armenia too, and I like Tbilisi and Yerevan very much. The people here are very sanguine and this is for me an advantage. The only problem for me in Tbilisi is your traffic. One cannot feel quite safe here. Generally, I drive my car myself except the official meetings and therefore, I can feel the hazards well. I am very careful as the drivers here drive rather dangerously. I drive whenever I can at my leisure time in the city as well as in the countryside.

G.J: Apart from driving, what is your favorite pastime?

S.S: Football. When I have free time, I am training goalkeepers. I was a goalkeeper-coach in Budapest and here I do the same. In every country where I worked I have been involved in the local football sphere. Here inTbilisi I sometimes help to train the reserve teams of DynamoTbilisi and Gagra. I have the UEFA license for coaching goal-keepers and when I came here, I was searching and I found some contacts with these clubs. Now, whenever I have time, I go there; if it were possible, I would go there every week and every day, but unfortunately, it is impossible. Football is very much about practice, so I have to show them; the young goal-keepers have to practice; I show them what to do and how to do it.

Of course, I watch the games as well: whenever Dynamo plays inTbilisi, I am at their stadium. Sometimes I go to the countryside to watch them.This is part of my life, I cannot live without it. After two weeks I am missing it; as it is now, because they have the summer holidays and we’ll start only from the next week.

G.J: It’s like a drug for you, but a healthy drug…

S.S: Yes, I would say so.

G.J: Now, it must be your time – the Europe Cup is on.

S.S: Yes. Unfortunately, Georgia and Hungary are not among the competitors, this is the problem.

G.J: Maybe your national football also has some crisis like ours?

S.S: Yes, it started long ago. Last time, the Hungarian National Team was in the world championship in 1986.

G.J: What do you think hampers our national teams?

S.S:It is the question of infrastructure.We havea very limited number of stadiums and courts for trainings.If you go to the western European countries, you will see that 6-8 stadiums as minimum are there. The best players go abroad. But they - Hungarian and Georgian footballers, do not play in the best teams; they play in the medium teams.

G.J: Most of them play well abroad; however, they don’t play well here, when they are  together; why?

S.S: That is the good point! You are an expert, I would say (laughs). It is the problem of the coach.The coach must make them unified. Now, Temur Ketsbaia is heading the national team and I hope that he will be successful. He was a nice football player. Besides, I know him personally and I like him.

G.J: Now, a little bit about the formal side. What do you think of Georgian political culture.

S.S: I have not been here for long, but I can tell you that every country has its own controversies like Hungary and Georgia – positive and negatives sides, which is similar for every state. Of course, this year, because of upcoming parliamentary elections, the tension among the political parties is higher than before. If I may say a few critical words about it, my impression is that much more importance should be given to the presentation of programs, goals, aims; something like this: If I have the power, I’ll do  this and that. Unfortunately, we see very limited number of programs. It is my impression that much more attantion is paid to the personalities than to the programs. Their confrontation is not via programs, but via each other.

G.J: What can you say about the media?

S.S: It is the problem in this country that I cannot read local papers, but your paper is an exception thanks God and thank to you. I can’t understand the TV programs either. I speak English, German, Russian and Bulgarian too, but not Georgian… However, the media is very open, that’s what I see.

G.J: Maybe one day you’ll learn Georgian too as you seem to be keen on learning languages…

S.S:No, Georgian is a very complicated language. I only know some words that I hear at the football pitch.

G.J: Central European University is very popular here, which receives a lot of Georgians. Tell us a few words about it.

S.S: We have sent a lot of Georgians during the recent years to CEU and we are urging Georgians to have more candidacies because there are very nice and beneficial universities in Hungary. Some Georgian alumni students have very high posts. A lot more will probably take high positions.

G.J: Have you by any chance heard about the event organized by Georgian Journal at the end of the year of 2011 that identified the “Ambassador of the Year”?

S.S: Was there a competition? Who voted? Who won? What were the criteria? I have no idea about it. I am very interested who will be the winner this year? We are a small country and we have limited chances.

Still we wish Hungary success!

Print
Other Stories
Adam Kinzinger: I Strongly Support Georgia's Immediate NATO Membership
Congressman Adam Kinzinger, Chairman of the Georgian Caucus of Congress, is one of the main authors of critical letters received by the Georgian government in recent months.
Matthew Bryza: "I think it’s a shame if Georgia doesn’t participate in this digital hub project"
Matthew Bryza worries new telecommunications law targets Caucasus Online and will block major investments that could make Georgia the strategic center of a “digital silk road”
Czech Ambassador: “Georgia among the best countries worldwide when it comes to combating Covid 19”
"Czech contribution in monitoring COVID-19 in Georgia was invaluable and hugely important” - Georgia’s Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze praised the Czech Republic’s contribution during Friday meeting with the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Georgia, H.E. Petr Mikyska as the Georgian and Czech sides met to discuss various aspects of joint collaboration.
Russian MFA Statement About Lugar Research Center-Another Disinformation
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia responds to the statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry regarding Lugar's laboratory.
UN Human Rights Council Adopts Resolution On Occupied Territories Of Georgia
The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the occupied territories of Georgia - "Cooperation with Georgia" within the framework of its 43rd session.
Kurt Volker about 20th of June: People Can’t Forget That
Given that one year has passed since June 20, 2019, it is interesting to see how the West assesses the developments in Georgia during this one year and what expectations it has for the October parliamentary elections.
Eastern Partnership Beyond 2020- Context and Expectations
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) marked its 10th anniversary in 2019. The round dates always come with reflections and new resolutions for the future.
"8 March Agreement Is Very important For Georgian Democracy"-Carl Hartzell
The 8th March agreement concerned not only the change in the electoral system but justice and the impermissibility of political partiality in electoral processes, - stated the Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia, Carl Hartzell during his video broadcast.
Donald Trump Congratulates Georgia on Independence Day
The President of the United States of America Donald Trump sent a letter of congratulations to the Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Gakharia on Independence Day.
US Ambassador Congratulating Georgia on the Independence Day
US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan has congratulated Georgia on the Independence Day.
Georgia's President Warns Covid-19 Crisis Could Trigger Russian Aggression
Georgia’s president has warned that Russia’s struggle to contain the spread of coronavirus and an economic crisis compounded by an oil price collapse risk is triggering new Kremlin aggression beyond its borders, - reads an article published by Financial Times.
Creation of Maps Violating Georgia's Territorial Integrity To be Considered Illegal
Production, advertising, use, and transportation of maps and other objects reflecting the violation of the principle of territorial integrity of Georgia will be considered as an illegal act.
Turkey Starts Accepting Health Tourists From Georgia
Turkey has started accepting foreign patients from several countries, including from Georgia.
Georgia Has The Greatest Support In the World From EU-Carl Hartzell
A true friend is known to be in trouble, and we have proved that we are true friends, ”-EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzel said during an online meeting with members of the European Business Association.
The EU Council Has Approved a Package of Financial Assistance to Georgia
The Council of the European Union (EU) has approved a package of emergency macro-financial assistance for 10 countries as part of its Neighborhood and Enlargement Policy.
The US Ambassador Stresses The Importance of Fair Judiciary System
We would like to see more American companies invest in Georgia and more Georgian companies in the United States said US Ambassador Kelly Degnan during a virtual press conference.
"One More Political Prisoner Is Still Waiting To Be Released"-McAllister
The MEPs expressed their opinions about the political situation in Georgia at the discussion of the report on the implementation of the Association Agreement between the EU and Georgia.
Promoting Georgia As a Safe Destination For Tourism
“Georgia – a safe destination” is a message that Georgian diplomats should send to people in their countries, - Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said while talking to Georgian ambassadors abroad via a video conference today.
UN To Allocate USD 1 Million To Support COVID-19 Crisis in Georgia
The United Nations will allocate USD 1 million for Georgia to help the country better respond to the immediate health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and protect the most vulnerable groups from the devastating socio-economic impacts of the health crisis.
U.S. Senators Express Concern Over The Expulsion of American Businesses From Georgia
U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, Congressmen Judy Arrington, and Markwayne Mullin have written to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, expressing concern over the expulsion of U.S. companies and businesses from Georgia.
European Parliament Approves €150 Million Aid For Georgia
The European Parliament on Friday approved €3 billion in loans to help EU neighbors and partner countries deal with the fallout of COVID-19.
MEPs and U.S Senators Welcome the Pardon of Opposition Politicians
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili announced yesterday that she was pardoning Georgian opposition politicians Gigi Ugulava and Irakli Okruashvili, which she said was ‘a very difficult decision’.
The Presidency of the Council of Europe of Georgia Received a High Assessment
According to the Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, the presidency of the Council of Europe of Georgia had a very high assessment at the international level.
Coronavirus Crisis is an Opportunity to Deepen Relations With the EU-Salome Zourabichvili
The President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili talked to the President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö on March 14.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
02.08.2020
03.08.2020
USD
1
USD
3.0721
3.0721
EUR
1
EUR
3.6420
3.6420
GBP
1
GBP
4.0343
4.0343
RUB
100
RUB
4.1573
4.1573
Other Stories
On 26 May, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, joined celebrations in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi
Violation of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Assad regime has been strictly criticized
Exactly one year ago, Georgia was granted visa-free travel with the European Union.
Georgia’s ex-president president Mikheil Saakashvili's supporters managed to free detained Mikheil Saakashvili in the center of Kiev.
The US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly congratulates Georgia on Independence Day.
The regulations on the introduction of visa-free travel for citizens of Georgia have been officially signed in Brussels.
The entire Georgia is involved in Secret Santa game, which means that people are sending gifts to each other secretly
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia is taking part in NATO Ministerial underway in Brussels, Belgium.
A special squad has been mobilized at the 48th polling station in Marneuli, Kvemo Kartli region.
Two politicians in Georgia have come to blows during a live TV debate ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections, Euronews reports.
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
3.0721
EUR
1
EUR
3.6420
GBP
1
GBP
4.0343
RUB
100
RUB
4.1573
August 2020
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31